Illuminating India was a season of exhibitions and events that celebrated India’s contribution to science, technology and mathematics.
At its heart were two free major exhibitions: 5000 Years of Science and Innovation and Photography 1857–2017. Respectively, they presented a kaleidoscopic history of scientific breakthroughs in India and a unique photographic survey of the country’s technological and cultural development. Illuminating India commemorated 70 years of Independence and was part of the British Council’s UK/India Year of Culture.
Main image: Party Field, Janakpur, Nepal, 2016, from the series A Myth of Two Souls (2013–) © Vasantha Yogananthan
Illuminating India: 5000 Years of Science and Innovation
From some of the earliest cities to interplanetary exploration, Indian innovation in science, technology and mathematics has dramatically shaped the world we live in today.
5000 Years of Science and Innovation revealed how the Mughal emperors conserved nature in the 16th century, how 20th century mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan revolutionised mathematics, and how the Indian Space Research Organisation sent a camera to Mars for less than the cost of the film Gravity.
Illuminating India: Photography 1857–2017
This exhibition brought to light the previously overlooked Indian photographers who worked in parallel with their foreign counterparts from the 1850s onwards.
Pivoting around two key dates—1857, the year of the Mutiny and 1947, the year of Independence and Partition—it was an ambitious survey of the technological and artistic development of photography in India that examined the role the medium has played in charting the country’s modern history.
Among the images were works by Samuel Bourne, art photography pioneer Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and award-winning contemporary photographer Vasantha Yogananthan.
Artist Chila Kumari Burman’s work challenges stereotypical assumptions of South Asia. We are proud to have commissioned her to create a series of artworks, collectively entitled India Illuminated!, that represent her response to the objects and stories in Illuminating India: 5000 Years of Science and Innovation. These works were displayed at the entrance to the exhibition.